Siargao Island, Philippines – Over 60 media officers, writers and radio announcers from different regions in Mindanao participated in an environmental and climate change reporting workshop conducted by the Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. (PAJ) in Del Carmen, Siargao, Philippines.
In an island frequently visited by local and foreign tourists for surfing, Mayor Alfredo Coro II, in partnership with the local government and private sector, has converted their small municipality to an “eco-town” to help the residents cope with the effects of climate change.
“Siargao is a poor island. The only way to move up is through partnership-driven programs. We may be a fifth-class municipality but we act like first-class citizens,” Coro said.
Hidden in Del Carmen is the longest contiguous mangrove stand in the Philippines, spreading to over 4,000 hectares. Aside from fishing, residents also rely heavily on agriculture and crab fattening as their sources of income.
The workshop, titled “Climate Change: Gets Mo Na Ba?” started with a series of lectures to laymanize the weather phenomena associated with climate change. Dr. Rosa Perez, Senior Research Fellow at Manila Observatory and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the effects of climate change could not be completely reversed but the harmful impacts can be eased through mitigation and adaptation.
“When a risk becomes a reality, it becomes a disaster. We cannot prevent an impending natural disaster but we can help manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable,” Dr. Perez said.
Print, television and radio journalists who covered the environmental beat also shared tips and techniques on how to mainstream these issues in the public.
“It is expedient that climate change be consistently discussed on radio or television since its impact has been evident in the Philippines. Using standard simple terms should be used so the information heard by the listeners would not be confusing,” Station Manager Himaya Duyon Juni of Radyo ng Bayan Butuan said.
“Scores of environmental stories rarely get the coverage they deserve and are often kicked to the bottom of the newsfeed,” GMA Segment Producer Hon Sophia Balod said. The challenge is turning a global, complex issue such as climate change into a local and compelling story, she added.
Imelda Abano, President of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists, focused on understanding the technicalities of science reporting. New technologies such as geomapping and data journalism can help reporters write their stories better.
A workshop-forum, composed of 85 students and teachers, was also conducted to help young journalists understand the importance of environmental reporting in their locality.
“We want to see more published and aired stories on climate change. We want to see regular environmental stories in national and regional papers, radio, TV, and social media,” PAJ Vice President Noel Reyes said. (Fretcher Magatao 02/13/2017, ruralevolution.net)